Category: Miscellaneous

A Week at Fiddle Camp

Tomas just got back from one expedition, and off he and DC go on another. (For the record, Trek went very well, despite the fact that it rained buckets on them for most of the time, and they ended up coming home a half day early. Tomas said he had a great time, so yay for that.)

This week, Tomas and DC are at Fiddle Camp, a weeklong summer camp devoted to fiddle music and stringed instruments. We only became aware of Fiddle Camp a year or two ago, and both kids said they wanted to do it, and applied for scholarships to cover some of the costs. The scholarships came through, and we drove them up yesterday.

It was a strange sensation, dropping the two of them off at a place where Tomas knows a couple of people and DC knows just about no one (other than Tomas, of course). We took them each to their cabin (ten kids per cabin) and unloaded their bags, and then took them on a brief walk around the camp, and that was that. I figured they’d want us out of their hair as quickly as possible, so we grabbed MC and got back in the car for the drive home.

I went to several camps as a kid. CTY and Day Camp. I remember some of what I did there. (More at CTY than at Day Camp–was it at Deerkill? I can’t quite remember.) But I do think it’s helpful to kids to let them get away from their parents and do their own thing for a while. Of course. part of that process is hoping that “their own thing” is something that you as a parent approve of, but sooner or later you have to let them figure that out for themselves. I think we should have sent Tomas off sooner, though we probably couldn’t have afforded to do it in years past.

Anyway. I checked in briefly with Tomas yesterday evening via text, just to make sure all was going well. Got the thumbs up, so I’m assuming the best, and hoping they’re having a blast playing music, dancing, eating, swimming, and having fun. MC was quite sad to see them go, so we’ll have to see how this week goes for her. Entire families can attend. Perhaps Denisa will take MC next year. We’ll see.

For now, however, my family is down to three people at home instead of five. Whatever will I do with all that extra space?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Further Adventures in Stocks

After my success with Square stock a while ago, I decided to give it another go back in April of last year. At the time, Facebook’s stock had plummeted in price, and it seemed like a great opportunity to buy some, since (back then) I figured Facebook would be around for quite some time to come. The only problem was that it was more expensive than I would have liked; I could only afford 4 shares at $153.64 a piece, investing a grand total of $614.56.

For the first while, it seemed like I’d made a really great purchase. By July, the price of the stock was up to $207, meaning I had made over $200, increasing my investment by over a third. Yay!

Then Facebook got hit with lawsuits and penalties for a string of stupid decisions, and I saw the stock drop all the way down to $125 by December. I’d lost almost 20% of my investment. Boo!

The stock has had a rocky road to recovery, clawing its way back above $200 again at last, and I’ve taken my earnings and cashed out. I still think it’s likely Facebook’s stock will increase some more in the future, but I no longer have confidence that it’s going to be around indefinitely. I guess in the end, I just decided the Facebook stock ride was one I didn’t enjoy, and so I decided to get off while I still could.

On the other hand, my last experiment (Square stock) is now up to over $80, so if I had stuck around back when I sold my stock at $45 or so, I would have almost doubled my money by now. I still don’t regret clocking out when I did. I needed the funds then, and I had tripled my investment that time. Will the same hold true for Facebook? Possibly, but I think I might take a bit of a time out from individual stocks for right now. I look at the Dow Jones, and it just seems awfully high to me . . .

That said, I have nothing to complain about from my time working with stocks, and I’d say it’s likely I’ll give the wheel another spin if and when I find the right company to invest in. If nothing else, it gives me another thing to check each morning when I start my day. Kind of like a sports team that you have an actual stake in.

Got any hot stock tips for me to look into?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

I Probably Can’t Remember What You Look Like

Not for people I know well, obviously. But if I’ve only met you once or twice, chances are I have a really hard time remembering what you look like, even if we sat and talked for a while.

True story: during my freshman year at BYU, I went on a blind date with a girl. We had a great time. Really hit it off, and I liked her right away. The only problem? I couldn’t for the life of me remember what she looked like after that first date. I had her name and her phone number. I knew what building she lived in. But if I tried to remember what she looked like?

Nada.

She was short and blonde and cute, and that was all I could remember.

In my defense, the date had been dinner and a movie, and it’s not like you’re staring at a person’s face throughout a whole movie. It was also at night, and dark in the restaurant. (We went to a rib place. It was tasty. I can remember that now, over 20 years later. I’ve forgotten what movie we saw, however.) I called her up and asked her to go on a second date, and she agreed, but the whole time between when I asked her out again and actually picked her up, I went around BYU being extra nice to any short, cute, blonde girls I saw. (Not particularly difficult to do, I’ll grant you.)

I developed this sort of non-committal, friendly smile that I still use to this day. You sort of tuck your lips in and pull them back in a way that might be a smile and might be you just getting ready to face the day. I teach a bunch of students here at UMF. I interact with many different professors. I can’t honestly remember all their faces, so I’m right back at the same place I was after that first blind date: worried I’ll inadvertently give someone I know the cold shoulder.

You’ll be relieved to hear that I eventually did go out on a second date with the girl. (Though I couldn’t remember what she looked like even when I was standing in her lobby waiting for her to come down. That was a bit touch and go, but I got through it.) We even became a couple for a while, and I’m still Facebook friends with her today. (Yes, I can now remember what she looks like, even without double checking on Facebook.)

But if I haven’t met you more than three or four times, there’s a high chance I can’t remember your face. I remember we met. I remember what happened. But that’s about it. It’s not personal, I swear. But it makes things like family reunions awkward, as a stream of people I rarely see all remember exactly who I am, while I’m scrambling to remember which family member they are and hoping they’re not one I should know really well. Or when a student or faculty member comes to the desk and seems like they might know me. Or they might not . . .

Does anyone else have this problem, or is it just me?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

What Do You Normally Eat for Breakfast?

I was watching the first season of The Americans last night, and there was a typical “family at home before school” scene, with the whole fam there, Mom making pancakes while Dad read the paper and watched the news. I didn’t think much of it at first (just your average setting for breakfast), but then I suddenly thought to compare it with my experience with breakfast over the years, and it really didn’t line up for me at all.

Have I had big breakfasts before? You bet. But my breakfast baseline has almost always been a bowl of cereal with milk. Sure, now it’s raw oatmeal with milk, but it’s essentially the same thing. Pancakes or french toast or bacon or eggs? That’s the sort of thing I get at a hotel buffet, maybe, or that we have every now and then when we actually all have time in the morning.

Come to think of it, the “family all around while they eat breakfast together” portrayal also doesn’t line up. Tomas leaves the house at 6:05. I leave at 6:35. DC and MC leave at 8:30. Denisa leaves after them. We all get up at different times and run on different routines in the morning.

Is this just me, or have I been lied to by television series for all these years? I don’t really miss having a warm breakfast every morning with the family gathered ’round, but maybe that’s just because I’ve never had it as an expectation. I’m going to post a poll on Facebook and try to get to the bottom of this, once and for all . . .

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Christmas Crazy

Each year, I forget just how insanely busy the holiday season can be. Maybe some of that is because it gets even busier each year. As my kids grow up, their schedules begin to fill up. When they were little, it was easy to just say “They’ll do anything Denisa and I want to do.” We had complete control over the scheduling and agendas. But as kids get older, they have these things called “expectations.” They want to do things they like, not just whatever you want.

This affects even simple things like getting presents. As kids get older, the things they want get more elaborate, expensive, and particular. Gone are the days when I could just waltz down the toy aisle in the store, grab something off the shelf, and wrap it up when I got home, confident and secure in the knowledge that my kid would think it was the Best Toy Ever. (Well, they’re gone for Tomas. They’re still very much there for MC, thankfully. DC is somewhere in the middle these days . . .)

But that’s not all. Denisa is teaching three writing classes, which is a whole ton of work more than even a typical class. (Writing classes, surprisingly perhaps, mean students do a lot of writing. And when they do that writing, they expect to have it graded. Grading writing involves reading and evaluating writing. And that takes a lot more time than correcting a multiple choice test.)

And I’m the library director now, which means I have more responsibilities at work. It’s the sort of thing that just creeps up on you year after year, and sometimes you don’t notice all these extra obligations until they all come crashing around your head at times when you’re already stretched thin.

Like the holidays.

So if I seem a bit more terse than my usual self, or if I seem otherwise distracted, it’s because I’m trying to keep all these balls in the air, and they each keep getting closer and closer to the falling to the ground before I can grab them and fling them up again. Which is perhaps why when I got an email from the pr department of my church asking me to get ready to “Light the World,” my response was perhaps not as delicate, spiritual, or polite as it ought to have been. (Especially with this whole time of year being connected to honoring the Savior.)

What can I say? I’m like a rubber band. Pretty darn stretchy, until you stretch me too far and I snap.

If you’re feeling like I am, know you’re not alone. Keep on juggling, and good luck with it. I still love this time of year, and I’ll love it even more once the presents are bought and wrapped (and I can get this @$@#! grant application off my plate).

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

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